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Gone but returned
May 6, 2013 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Three missing women found a decade later blocks from where they disappeared: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight disappeared on the near west side of Cleveland in 2003, 2004 and 2000. All were found alive, with children, in the home of a 52-year old man within minutes of the places they disappeared.

DeJesus' mother, who died several years ago from heart trouble, "always said [DeJesus] was sold into trafficking."

Berry attracted the attention of a neighbor, who called police. All three were taken to a local hospital and are speaking to police and the FBI. Spontaneous cheering erupted as the women were taken from the house.

Mayor Frank Jackson will hold a press conference tomorrow.
posted by bitter-girl.com (211 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy macaroni.
posted by tilde at 6:03 PM on May 6, 2013


Charles is my new hero.
posted by MissySedai at 6:12 PM on May 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm glad they were found alive. But holy fuck it's depressing as hell. There are monsters among us. It's really hard to have faith in humanity and the basic goodness of people.
posted by shoesietart at 6:13 PM on May 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


High Octane Nightmare Fuel.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Holy shit. What an amazing thing that they are still alive and will be reunited with their families. How terribly sad that not all their family members survived to be reunited with them.

As I was reading the article, a comment popped up from someone with the username "Tito deJesus":
To those who have seen my name on this man's facebook page, it is true, I have known this man for many years, performed on stage with him for many years, and I have had rehearsals in my old house and other places with this man. I considered him a friend and fellow musician. I have been to his house a few times since I have known him. And to see the news about him being a suspect in this horrible crime, breaks my heart, and makes me not want to trust anyone. It is hard to believe, but thank you God that Gina, Amanda and the other girl are safe. You never know a person until something like this comes out. My God, and to think this man was in my home where my children were. This makes me mad, sooooo mad to know that Gina was there all along. How could someone look me to my face, treat me as a friend, when he had done this! God forgive him, because I don't know if I could ever!
He doesn't say so explicitly, but I wonder if he is a relative of Gina deJesus.

Also, this reminds me very much of Emma Donoghue's novel Room.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ah, someone just asked him if they were related and he said they are 3rd or 4th cousins.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:21 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


That certainly leaves many questions unanswered.
posted by Ardiril at 6:22 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The mayor's press conference should be a doozy. Previously on Mefi... there was a lot of outrage over police reaction to a serial killer's victims. Locally, there have been reports (I haven't found a reliable source or video yet) that say the police dispatch initially did not believe the neighbor when he called. If that does turn out to be true...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:24 PM on May 6, 2013


High Octane Nightmare Fuel.

Indeed.
posted by gkhan at 6:29 PM on May 6, 2013


Shocking, Horrifying, Miraculous Story
I won’t add any more commentary than to say that the rescuer gave an interview for the ages. Capped off by a final exchange when the reporter asks the neighbor identified as Charles, the rescuer, when he knew something was up. “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”
posted by zombieflanders at 6:42 PM on May 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


I don't understand — these women were held in that house for this long and were never at any time able to escape? That defies belief.
posted by orange swan at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The neighbour is the black man.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:50 PM on May 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


orange swan - able to escape is not always the same thing as physically capable of escape.
posted by Nothing at 6:51 PM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


these women were held in that house for this long and were never at any time able to escape?

Elizabeth Smart herself explains how that happens. Read the article because it's amazing, but the short version is that victims of sexual abuse like Smart and the subjects of this story are too ashamed to come forward.
posted by chrchr at 6:53 PM on May 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


I don't understand — these women were held in that house for this long and were never at any time able to escape? That defies belief.

That kind of thought does spring to mind, but I really hesitate to even go there. We don't know anything about the ordeal these women suffered.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:55 PM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Remember Elizabeth Smart? This seems similar. After a time the victim gives up trying to escape and starts to believe the captor.

On preview, what chrchr said.
posted by tuesdayschild at 6:55 PM on May 6, 2013


Also reminds me of Jaycee Dugard.

I'm so glad they were found, and it's horrible that those years were stolen from them. Jaycee's story makes me think that there's hope they can rebuild their lives.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:58 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, this reminds me very much of Emma Donoghue's novel Room.

The Booker Prize finalist "triggered by" the Fritzl case. See also, if you can bear it, the Jamelske case or the kidnapping of Colleen Stan, although Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping may be more relevant.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:00 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; we're not going to get into a debate about whether children can consent to be kidnapped.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:11 PM on May 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


Charles is the new hatchet guy
posted by Flashman at 7:15 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


the duck by the oboe: "The neighbour is the black man."

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

(sorry)
posted by symbioid at 7:16 PM on May 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


The Plain Dealer, Nov 2004:
For 19 months, Louwana Miller refused to give up hope that her missing daughter might still be alive.

Not anymore.

Desperate for any clue as to Amanda Berry’s whereabouts, and tired of unanswered questions from authorities, Miller turned to a psychic on Montel Williams’ nationally syndicated television show.

The psychic said what the FBI, police and Miller hadn’t.

“She’s not alive, honey,” Sylvia Browne told her matter-of-factly. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

With those blunt words, Browne persuaded Miller to accept a grim probability that has become more likely with each passing day.

Miller went back to the West Side home where she had been keeping Amanda’s things in careful order and cleaned up. She gave away her daughter’s computer and took down her pictures. “I’m not even buying my baby a Christmas present this year,” she said.

Miller said she returned devastated from the show, taped this month in New York.

“I lost it,” she said.
She died in 2006.
posted by dumbland at 7:24 PM on May 6, 2013 [40 favorites]


Good lord, the Amanda Berry 9-11 call is beyond horrible. She sounds so incredibly scared, and the dispatcher tells her they will send a car when one is free... What a terrible way to be treated when you are scared for yourself and your child.

I'm so glad Charles was there to help her get out, and she deserves so much credit for being brave enough to escape. I really hope all the women find peace and a happy life after such a crazy ordeal.
posted by gemmy at 7:31 PM on May 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


She died in 2006

I can't imagine anything more heartbreaking.
posted by davebush at 7:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


: (
posted by limeonaire at 7:44 PM on May 6, 2013


This was less than a mile from my house. Seymour Avenue, where this apparently took place, is mostly a residential street so I've only been down it a couple of times.

Still. I've been in that general area a bunch of times and it's just shocking to think about how those women were trapped in that house--for years--while I mindlessly drove or biked by on some errand or other. What we don't know can be terrifying.

Charles is a really solid guy. And I think there are way more Charleses in this neighborhood than that monster. But that thought doesn't give those women back the years they've spent in that house.

As already mentioned, this is Cleveland, where Anthony Sowell managed to murder 11 women before he was caught. This guy abducted 3 women. If that is not a huge fucking red siren that there's a problem here then I don't know what is.
posted by mcmile at 7:45 PM on May 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


A June 2004 story that appeared in a West Side neighborhood newspaper was written by someone named Ariel Castro and described the community’s anxiety since the disappearance of DeJesus and Berry.

The author interviewed DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz, and a group of parents waiting for their children to be released from Wilbur Wright Middle School. They spoke of the need for greater security and the fear that had settled upon the neighborhood.

“For seven weeks, Gina’s family has been organizing searches, holding prayer vigils, posting fliers and calling press conferences,” Castro wrote. “Despite the many tips and rumors that have been circulating in the neighborhood, there has been no sign of her. One thing is for certain, however. Almost everyone feels a connection with the family, and Gina’s disappearance has the whole area talking.”

It is unclear whether the author is the suspect.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I, too, lived within a mile or two of this house from 2004 to 2011. Probably driven down that street countless times. Terrifying.
posted by starvingartist at 7:48 PM on May 6, 2013


Good lord, the Amanda Berry 9-11 call is beyond horrible. She sounds so incredibly scared, and the dispatcher tells her they will send a car when one is free... What a terrible way to be treated when you are scared for yourself and your child.

I can't tell if the talk between the cop and the dispatcher at the end is just them remaining calm so as to get things done right, or should someone be saying, "GET THE FUCK OVER THERE NOW!"
posted by anothermug at 7:50 PM on May 6, 2013


The accused is 52 years old. The federal sentencing for kidnapping, enhanced by sexual assault on a minor, runs to life. Federal means no parole/early release/probation. If found guilty, this man will die in jail. I hope that gives his victims some small measure of comfort.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 7:51 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The psychic said what the FBI, police and Miller hadn’t...“She’s not alive, honey”

FOR FUCK'S SAKE HUMANITY
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:51 PM on May 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


Also reminds me of Jaycee Dugard.

Ditto.

It's weird to simultaneously feel shuddering horror and profound relief.
posted by rtha at 7:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


She’s not alive, honey,” Sylvia Browne told her matter-of-factly. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

With those blunt words, Browne persuaded Miller to accept a grim probability that has become more likely with each passing day.


If I were running the show, Sylvia Browne would suddenly be penniless and homeless, all of her wealth having gone to Miller's family. Can someone make that happen, please?
posted by zardoz at 8:05 PM on May 6, 2013 [52 favorites]


Elizabeth Smart wrote a fantastic essay recently about abstinence-only ideology. I'm on my phone, so search for it, it's great.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:13 PM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Good lord, the Amanda Berry 9-11 call is beyond horrible.

I know working as a dispatcher has to be a really hard job but this guy seems to have done... really poorly. Like I thought they would stay on the line with her until the police got there? She's clearly frantic. Most calls I've heard with people who sound this panicked the dispatcher stays on the line. Anyone have any input on this?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:14 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's possible that dispatchers are trained to let a call go if the caller would be in danger if she was caught on the phone.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:17 PM on May 6, 2013


Good lord, the Amanda Berry 9-11 call is beyond horrible. She sounds so incredibly scared, and the dispatcher tells her they will send a car when one is free... What a terrible way to be treated when you are scared for yourself and your child.

I agree - I get more empathetic treatment when I call the non-emergency line about abandoned cars or power outages. That dispatcher is giving a disgraceful response to someone clearly in extreme distress.
posted by winna at 8:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


See also, if you can bear it, the Jamelske case or the kidnapping of Colleen Stan, although Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping may be more relevant.

Also, Natascha Kampusch.

It seems that we hear about this kind of thing happening with some regularity in recent years. Every time, I am horrified all over again and I wonder how many missing girls and women are being held captive right now but we maybe won't hear about or know about them for years, if ever? How many in my city? Are there any in my neighborhood? It's just so, so awful to think.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:20 PM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence Education Teaches Rape Victims They’re Worthless, Dirty, And Filthy
posted by triggerfinger at 8:23 PM on May 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


This is why I bury myself inside of books of fiction. I don't want to live in this reality any more.
posted by Fizz at 8:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


It seems that we hear about this kind of thing happening with some regularity in recent years. Every time, I am horrified all over again and I wonder how many missing girls and women are being held captive right now but we maybe won't hear about or know about them for years, if ever? How many in my city? Are there any in my neighborhood? It's just so, so awful to think.


This kind of thing has been happening since we became monkeys.
This kind of thing happens everywhere too.

shoesietart said it best.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:39 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This pretty much cements the idea in my head that everyone of us knows someone who twisted in some pretzel like shape.
posted by drewbage1847 at 8:39 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


You did catch that right? "The Public Prosecutor deciding to take any action?"

As if he...Why would he...She didn't phone...The man said please...
REALLY!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:43 PM on May 6, 2013


Thank god for Emergency Dispatch. That's a stressful job. 911 will answer, 24-7.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 PM on May 6, 2013


I heard the tapes. When you call 911 you are freaking out. They are trying to calm you down. Sometimes they have to do that. These people have a super hard job that none of us have to do.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:54 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wasn't there a similar case in Cleveland a few years ago except the guy murdered a bunch of women and kept their corpses in his house?
posted by discopolo at 8:57 PM on May 6, 2013


By the way... Charles Ramsey is trending worldwide.
posted by Fizz at 8:58 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


miracles really do happen, God is good :)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:01 PM on May 6, 2013


Also, that 3 year old girl...I guess Amanda Berry and her captor's daughter? Shudder.
posted by discopolo at 9:02 PM on May 6, 2013


Yeah, there were apparently other children found in the house as well - all-round not good.
posted by heyjude at 9:11 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brothers: Castro brothers, aged 50, 52, and 54 in custody.
What is it with brothers?
posted by de at 9:12 PM on May 6, 2013


According to this Daily Mail article, the girls were kept in a locked dungeon.
posted by discopolo at 9:14 PM on May 6, 2013


Quick PSA: I know it's easy to mix up with 9/11 in our social consciousness, but please remember that the emergency number in the USA is 9-1-1, not 9-11. I learned as an EMT that panicked people have, no joke, claimed to have been unable to find the 11 button on the phone to dial 911. Thank you.
posted by swerve at 9:16 PM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


According to this Daily Mail article, the girls were kept in a locked dungeon.

This is one of those stories where I don't trust anything sensationalist printed in the Daily Mail.
posted by gkhan at 9:17 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is one of those stories where I don't trust any sensationalist stuff printed in the Daily Mail.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


Think about how amazing 911 is. A person in trouble can dial it and aid is sent to them at high speed. Its not the technology of the internal combustion engine and the cell phone, but how they're combined. This would be an idea completely unknown to people in the past, to be minutes away from help in 90% of places.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is one of those stories where I don't trust anything sensationalist printed in the Daily Mail.

Take a look at the shoebox of a house in Google streetview and do your own speculating. Children at play have nothing on three women screaming. Either the neighbours were deaf or ... something.
posted by de at 9:26 PM on May 6, 2013


I think, at least from the perspective of a Clevelander, Ironmouth, that we don't exactly have ultra-high opinions of the 911 dispatch and police here. The serial killer mentioned above? Yeah, had at least one 911 call the police did virtually nothing about. My best friend? Called 911 with her boss when they found kittens locked in a box and left to die. (They lived! One is with me right now!) Police? "Ma'am, we don't deal with cats. Call us when a human's involved."

Which they did. When the guy who owned the box stabbed the building janitor to death...

The list goes on and on and is part of why this story is extra-horrifying for Clevelanders. It went well, thankfully. But it could have been just as easily screwed up like so many other 911 calls before them.

Sorry for the threadsit, but this is both literally and figuratively close to home for me. Maybe the local perspective is useful in evaluating why there's already been a bunch of backlash against the dispatcher.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:28 PM on May 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


And don't be afraid to call 911. I've called it a few times; notably I witnessed some guy hop a fence that dropped directly onto a freeway. That was pretty freaky. And anytime you see or hear people screaming at each other in rage or anger, pick up the phone.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:28 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is unclear whether the author is the suspect.

TPM liveblog says that a NBC reporter has found the guy and it's the suspect's son who says he is shocked
posted by Bwithh at 9:30 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My best friend? Called 911 with her boss when they found kittens locked in a box and left to die. (They lived! One is with me right now!) Police? "Ma'am, we don't deal with cats. Call us when a human's involved."

Maybe there's more to the story, but that seems to me to be a very inappropriate use of 911, which is only supposed to be used for emergencies.
posted by gkhan at 9:34 PM on May 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


There's another, equally powerful interview with Ramsey. Watch the entire thing.
link
posted by etaoin at 9:39 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fucking Silvia Browne. She also told Shaun Hornbeck's family that he was dead (he wasn't) and Opal Jennings family that she was was alive & sold into sex slavery (she was dead).
Montel Williams should be ashamed of himself for endorsing that hideous evil woman. They both have profited from traumatised, desperate, vulnerable people. Despicable.
posted by goshling at 9:45 PM on May 6, 2013 [59 favorites]


It's been 8+ years, gkhan, and I wasn't there so I can't tell you which number they called about the kittens but I do know that when the janitor was stabbed by the same guy it took the police 30+ minutes to show up. It's about responsiveness. This was the same police district where they found the serial killer's house full of bodies, too.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fifty bucks says the Gregory Brothers are furiously autotuning Charles Ramsey's interview in a basement somewhere right now.
posted by danb at 9:51 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The second Ramsey interview that Etaoin links is damning as hell to the police. He says when he called 911 they accused him of making a prank call.
posted by chrchr at 10:07 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Take a look at the shoebox of a house in Google streetview and do your own speculating. Children at play have nothing on three women screaming. Either the neighbours were deaf or ... something.
posted by de at 12:26 AM on May 7 [+] [!]
Mr. Charles Ramsey, America's newest charming hero, specifically says that the house was very quiet and the fact that a woman was there making noise told him something was wrong, because he thought the one guy lived there by himself.
posted by etaoin at 10:15 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Truly, if there was ever a case to be made for a one-off reinstatement of the "thou shalt not suffer a witch..." policy. That woman is an evil manipulative horror.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:19 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The police could at least have told the people who called about the kittens to call the ASPCA.
posted by serena15221 at 10:26 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not clear (to me) from the news articles: Amanda Berry was taken along with her daughter? So we're talking about 4 people kidnapped?
posted by orrnyereg at 10:33 PM on May 6, 2013


gkhan: "Maybe there's more to the story, but that seems to me to be a very inappropriate use of 911, which is only supposed to be used for emergencies."

This is not universally true. In my large US mid-Atlantic coastal city, I've called 311 for non-emergency things and been told that the best/only way to get in touch with the police is by calling 911.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 10:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, I believe Amanda Berry had her daughter while being held. The father is probably one of her captors.
posted by forza at 10:36 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Maybe we can drop the question of the proper number to call for cat-related emergencies, since it's pretty tangential to the actual FPP?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:40 PM on May 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


“She’s not alive, honey,” Sylvia Browne told her matter-of-factly. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”

And if you needed more...
But there is no doubt that she makes a fortune saying very serious, cruel, show-stopping things to people in distress, especially, it seems, when she's in a grumpy mood.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:40 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mr. Charles Ramsey, America's newest charming hero, specifically says that the house was very quiet

Yep, which makes (sound proof) basement seem like a reasonable piece of speculating. Ramsey also said he claimed "there was something going on with that house" 12 months ago, when he first arrived in the neighbourhood, and a fellow neighbour told him to "just leave it alone, Chuck".
posted by de at 10:41 PM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


A lot of the stories are mentioning human trafficking. Does that imply the guy was renting his prisoners out? That would add another layer of ick. Creepy creeper.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Think about how amazing 911 is. A person in trouble can dial it and aid is sent to them at high speed."

Depends on where you are.

I remember trying to get through (on the West Side of LA) when an SUV was taking laps in my neighborhood, sideswiping parked cars. Busy signal, then on hold, then two hours before they got anybody out there to look at the cars.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


What a horrible case. I'm glad the girls are still alive, I hope they take their move back into society slowly and carefully as it'd have to be very difficult for them. And how sad for the mother who passed away having given up hope that her daughter would be found. Sylvia Browne is a parasite.
posted by harriet vane at 11:47 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kind of like my earlier comment better now that the comment it addressed has been deleted.

The case is such a fucking horrorshow. Except Charles.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:13 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Charles Ramsey and the Cowboy Hat Guy from Boston are RIGHTLY going to get their 15 minutes of fame this Spring, whether they ever wanted or desired that or not. To see the absolute depths of human depravity AND the selflessness of someone "just trying to help" in the same story is like... wow.

My anxieties are many, and this story is nightmare fuel indeed. Less so because they made it out alive, but my God, what they must have endured. This is one of those stories that people want to say "doesn't happen in America" or some shit, but um... yeah, not so.
posted by polly_dactyl at 12:37 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is modern slavery. There are more modern slaves in the world today than American slaves at the time of the Civil War, the highest number of slaves in human history. It exists in communities throughout America, though probably less so than in other countries.
posted by stbalbach at 1:44 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The second Ramsey interview that Etaoin links is damning as hell to the police. He says when he called 911 they accused him of making a prank call.

This page embeds a recording of Ramsey's original 911 call near the bottom of the article. For what it's worth, I don't hear the dispatcher making this accusation.
posted by metaman livingblog at 1:55 AM on May 7, 2013


Cowboy Hat Guy -- Carlos aka Alexander Brian Arredondo -- has had more than anyone's desired share of fame, coming as it did through the deaths of his sons.

That dispatcher is giving a disgraceful response to someone clearly in extreme distress.

While I can't know the policies of that 911 center, I am a regular user of 911 (or the non-emergency dispatch number as appropriate) due to neighborhood issues, and believe me, even as just a witness/caller, they will stay on the line until squads are present and I can make contact (if that's the need).

That certainly leaves many questions unanswered.

Not really. According to Finkelhor [pdf], 17% of non-family abductors of children are family friends; 21% are a long-time acquaintance; and only 37% are a stranger (others are e.g. authority figures) -- just over half of perpetrators, then, are known to the victim's family in some way. Also, interesting to this case, some 21% of non-family abductions involve multiple perpetrators (often a set of wannabe "parents", but not always). On the other hand, the bell curve for perpetrator ages peaks in the 20s, dropping to 12% in their 30s and 16% in their 40s (so not a perfect bell) -- and it looks like these brothers were in their forties, so slight outliers in at least that characteristic.

In other words, it would be completely normal if there turn out to have been even multiple ways in which the perps were connected to the victims.
posted by dhartung at 1:58 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's interesting to see the differences in both of Ramsay's interviews. In the first (in the order in which they were linked here) he says he didn't really register the significance of her name until he was on the phone with the police. In the second, he says he recognized the name immediately.

I don't at all mean that this takes away from the goodness of his actions. I just find it interesting the way our own memories evolve.
posted by bardophile at 3:12 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, in the first interviews he says he didn't know who she was when she told him, but that she asked him to dial 9-1-1 and while doing so, he suddenly remembered.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:55 AM on May 7, 2013


McDonald's need to hire Charles for their next ad campaign.
posted by goshling at 4:25 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did anyone notice the guy with the neck tattoo behind Ramsey in his interview? Check out the back of his jacket when he turns around.
posted by waitingtoderail at 4:55 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suspect's son wrote about missing Gina DeJesus

Michelle Knight, missing for decade but mother says she searched alone
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:07 AM on May 7, 2013


“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”

Troubling wisdom.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 AM on May 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


I just find it interesting the way our own memories evolve.

Mmm, I saw a Spanish speaking man interviewed, with the help of an interpreter, giving a first person account of kicking the door in; he knew who Berry was, he recognised her, and now I can't find that clip. Perhaps Ramsey wasn't acting alone in the rescue.
"Neighbor Anna Tejeda was sitting on her porch with friends when they heard someone across the street kicking a door and yelling.

Tejeda, 50, said one of her friends went over and told Berry how to kick the screen out of the bottom of the door, which allowed her to get out." *
Maybe it was Tejeda's friend I saw interviewed. It was Tejeda's phone that was used to dial 911.
posted by de at 5:10 AM on May 7, 2013


Check out the back of his jacket when he turns around.

Ko Ko? What is that?
posted by NoMich at 5:26 AM on May 7, 2013


What an amazing, incredible story. I want to buy Charles, the rescuer neighbor guy, a beer.
posted by Gelatin at 5:48 AM on May 7, 2013


For those who can stomach the subject matter, the recent film Michael is actually a well-made film tells the story of a man who keeps a young boy captive in his basement. It's an Austrian film, and was based to some degree on the cases of Natascha Kampusch and Elizabeth Fritzl.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:10 AM on May 7, 2013


Check out the back of his jacket when he turns around.

Ko Ko? What is that?


i think he's a hells angel named Ko Ko? i don't get it either.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 6:15 AM on May 7, 2013


He has a patch that reads "I'd tell you about my dick, but it's a lifelong story" as well as one that has the word "fuck" in it. That's definitely not a Hell's Angels MC patch, though.
posted by item at 6:49 AM on May 7, 2013


i think he's a hells angel named Ko Ko? i don't get it either.

On the back of his leather vest:

Ko Ko
(on the left side) I'd tell you about my dick but that's a lllllllong story
(on the right side) I ain't ---- ----- but I'd fuck you til he showed up
then some stuff on a banner underneath that

He also has a weird t-shirt on.

Who is this mysterious, malnourished Vin Diesel?
posted by NoMich at 6:49 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


We need to enhance that video, stat! The peculiar Ko-Ko and his cryptic patches might just be the missing link that's key in solving this caper!
posted by item at 6:54 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus jumped up Christ on a sidecar, how does a human being get to the point where it's bloody normal to have other human beings locked up downstairs?
posted by Mooski at 7:11 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


More frightening to me is that these guys played with the neighborhood kids and attended BBQs. It is the whole Banality of Evil here that I find disturbing.
posted by vacapinta at 7:20 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Screenshot of the KoKo guy's jacket. The saying on the right side is "I ain't Mr. Right but I'll ..." So apparently his name is KoKo Wrong.
posted by exogenous at 7:27 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


human being get to the point where it's bloody normal to have other human beings locked up downstairs?

Well a key element would be the gender of the humans involved. Some humans are less human than others.
posted by SassHat at 7:49 AM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is starting to sound like a sort of Three Brides for Three Creepyass Motherfucker Brothers. I never know what to think about these situations: its so great that those women are alive but sometimes I think if it were me I'd rather have been killed than endure what I'm sure they did. But I suppose its good that not everyone is as weak-willed as me!
posted by marylynn at 8:40 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Internet goes crazy over Charles
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:59 AM on May 7, 2013


God bless Charles, and everyone else involved in the rescue of those poor women.

God bless those women, and their families. May they get all the help and support that they need.

And may God have mercy on the souls of whoever did this. Because I sure wouldn't.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:10 AM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh my God.

Investigator: Women raped, resulting in up to 5 pregnancies
CLEVELAND -- The women found safe last night on Seymour Avenue were forced to have sex with their captors, resulting in up to five pregnancies, several police sources tell Channel 3 News.

One of those sources tells the Investigator Tom Meyer that the captors would beat the pregnant girls. Both sources say the babies didn't survive.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:25 AM on May 7, 2013


The accusation by some in this thread that they must have been somehow consenting or not trying to escape is pretty damn creepy. It's not like we don't have plenty of past examples of kidnappees being held in concealed prisons in houses. Depressingly enough.
posted by tavella at 9:46 AM on May 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


The accusation by some in this thread that they must have been somehow consenting or not trying to escape is pretty damn creepy.

Local news reporter: "My sources say one of the girls was chained to a wall early on like some kind of trophy."

There's nothing banal about this kind of evil.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:50 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whenever I read about this kind of evil I'm reminded of a segment from TV Nation in which an actor poses as a new resident in a quiet neighborhood who begins doing all manner of creepy, unsettling things (burying large barrels in the yard, throwing out red-stained mattresses, changing his house number to 666, hanging a banner advertising a free kids-only picnic proclaiming "no parents allowed", etc.) to see if any of his neighbors call the police. Spoiler alert: nobody did.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:20 AM on May 7, 2013


Though it may be too late, I recommend avoiding going down the rabbit hole of reading about the aforementioned Fritzl case if you find this subject matter upsetting. I think of myself as having a pretty high tolerance for real life horrors, and I still regret doing so years later.

The only thing that gets me through thinking about this at all is that there are many more people like Charles Ramsey than these assholes in the world. "If you see something, say something" gets a (sometimes well-deserved) bad rap in this post-9/11, security theater world but, thank God somebody did this time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


What's that epigram? "Evil happens when good people do nothing."
posted by orange swan at 10:38 AM on May 7, 2013


Er, do we have any evidence that the good people involved did nothing? Unless you think they should regularly break into their neighbors houses to check their basements? Going by the information we have now, the neighbors immediately acted when they saw something was wrong. Maybe it will come out later that there was something that should have had them calling the cops, but right now it looks more like "Evil happens when bad people do something."
posted by tavella at 10:46 AM on May 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm just amazed that the guy's kid wrote about this. Like, was he never in the house enough to find out that there were captives there?

This is all just amazingly fucked up and I'm glad the women have gotten out of there.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on May 7, 2013


Like, was he never in the house enough to find out that there were captives there?

Secret soundproof basements don't just exist on TV. In the Fritzl case, the wife of the abuser (and the mother of victim) had no idea that her daughter was locked away in the basement of their house -- for 24 years. During that time, the daughter had many children.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:56 AM on May 7, 2013


Er, do we have any evidence that the good people involved did nothing?

Yeah, sorry, that was definitely unclear on my part. I have only read a few things where neighbors were slightly suspicious of that house in this case, and that's probably hindsight anyway. I was referring more to what Servo5678 said above me -- and all the times and near misses in cases like this. It's certainly more complicated than I sounded. I don't want the world to get any more paranoid than it already is, but too often people look away from trouble because they don't want to get involved, and though it's not the cause of evil acts, it certainly allows them to continue.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:57 AM on May 7, 2013


i guess i am wondering if it's possible the captor(s) could have soundproofed the basement well enough that the shreiks of a woman giving birth was not heard. add in colicky baby and that's a lot of noise. i know nothing about soundproofing tho.
posted by sio42 at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2013


So the women had children in the basement? There was never a hospital involved?
posted by mathowie at 11:08 AM on May 7, 2013


Er, do we have any evidence that the good people involved did nothing?

Through BBC World News I've now heard nakedness mentioned twice during interviews with neighbours, and neighbours have been aware of the child. Carlos would occasionally take her outdoors or allow her at the attic window when he arrived home.

Screams from 'somewhere' were reported to police. They'd cruise the street and leave.

Two people have mentioned speaking with police; one woman was told by a policewoman that she needed to take her concerns, a naked woman seen crawling in the backyard and a child at the window, to a detective for consideration. She didn't.

The police have found no record of reports specific to #1107 from concerned neighbours. Sad.
posted by de at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2013


It's panicking to think these men were able to hide their true natures so well. When you read about Phillip Garrido or Fritzl, it's obvious they were not exactly well meshed into their communities. I'm not getting the same "creepy guy who insists he can control sound with his mind" vibe from the interviews with relatives and neighbours.

I can't verbalize how much these stories bother me. It's like finding out someone was not only cannibalized, but was also kept alive while body parts were chopped off. Like eating human flesh wasn't enough of a taboo, these men had to add an enjoyment of torture and suffering.

There are reports that the women had repeat miscarriages due to malnutrition, as well as there being several live births. (link) I can't imagine the hell of that, it's beyond my comprehension. There's no punishment in the world that could fit this crime.
posted by Dynex at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the women had children in the basement? There was never a hospital involved?

I was just wondering about that after reading this article about the Frtizl case:

The court will hear how over a period of 12 years, she never had more than a blanket, a bottle of disinfectant, a supply of nappies, a pair of scissors and a medical book to help her in childbirth. Her father was only present for the birth of her last child, Felix, in 2002.
posted by SassHat at 11:12 AM on May 7, 2013


Not all women shriek when giving birth. Nor when pregnant do they all crave pickles, demand epidurals, immediately give birth when trapped in elevators. Hollywood lies!

If your house is soundproofed enough to muffle a surround-sound action movie, it's enough to muffle a woman screaming. Especially if her captors are thoughtful enough to keep her gagged, drugged, or under coercion.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:13 AM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This 2006 story about Amanda Berry's mother is heartbreaking.
The last time we spoke, she demanded, “I want her on the news. She’s faded away from the whole world. It just kills me. This is killing me.” It finally did.
There's a 4th girl, a 14 year old who was last seen less than a mile away from the Castro house 6 years ago. She's still missing.
posted by jamaro at 11:48 AM on May 7, 2013


Another police source who is actively working on this investigation told NewsChannel5’s Michael Baldwin at least five babies were born inside the home. It’s not clear if that number includes Berry’s 6-year-old daughter who was found in the house with the women.

The three victims were rescued after getting the attention of a neighbor and calling 911.

There were initial reports of more children inside the home, but police have not released any other details about that specific piece of information.


Oh god. I have a bad feeling about this. It sounds like not all of the pregnancies ended in a miscarriage and that children born to the captives are either missing or found dead except for the 6 year old girl.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2013


oh man. i hadn't thought of the captors drugging the women while they were giving birth.

and re the comment about soundproofing enough for a nice surroundsound system...
considering the screams of pain from the most recent Game of Thrones, i can see how it's quite possible that screams of women could go overlooked if you were inside another house, even next door, as just being a movie or tv show. so i guess it's not quite as complex as i might have been thinking.

which kinda makes it freakier. we take so much as normal base-level background noise these days.
posted by sio42 at 12:14 PM on May 7, 2013


Also, many if not most of the houses in that neighborhood--much like mine, not far from there--have really old-school thick stone walls as foundation, and teensy windows, if any.

The news here has been reporting boarded up windows on the house. As someone who grew up with a musician dad who practiced in friends' basements and the like, it's not too far-fetched to assume you wouldn't be able to hear much outside with just a modicum of effort inside, sadly.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:17 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Er, do we have any evidence that the good people involved did nothing?

According to this, it seems that the neighbors alerted police at least twice about odd signs from the house...
CLEVELAND (AP) — One neighbor says a naked woman was seen crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard of the house a few years ago. Another neighbor says he heard pounding on the doors and noticed plastic bags over the windows.

Police showed up at the house both times, the neighbors say, but never went inside.

Now, after three women who vanished separately about a decade ago were rescued from the peeling, rundown house Monday in a discovery that exhilarated and astonished the city, Cleveland police are facing questions about their handling of the case and are conducting an internal review to see if they overlooked anything.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:57 PM on May 7, 2013


Charles Ramsey is definitely to be commended for taking action and helping Amanda Berry when he saw her. I don't think it should be taken lightly given that he initially thought it was a domestic violence situation--even in this day and age some people will refuse to get involved as they think it's a "private matter." It's definitely to his credit that he immediately went to help her.

That said, though, I think Amanda Berry deserves credit for seizing the opportunity to attempt escape. As several of the articles linked in this thread point out, even when the practical opportunity for escape presents itself--and it may not, for many years--kidnapped people may be so exhausted in body and mind that they might not be able to take advantage of the opportunity. That must have required strength and tenacity.

I also wanted to emphasize that the novel I linked to in my previous comment (Emma Donoghue's Room) is, despite its wrenching subject, a sensitive, non-sensationalistic portrait of a real survivor. She is sustained and motivated by the son she gives birth to while held captive. He's not the only baby she gives birth to, but sadly he's the only one who lives.

The more details that come out about this case in Cleveland, the more eerie parallels I notice.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:05 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't forget this fun guy.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:23 PM on May 7, 2013


Kinnakeet, I don't think linking to such a salaciously written article in this context is the best idea. The wiki article has the facts without having to drawl on about his being "never satiated", as well as correctly naming it as rape and not sex.
posted by Dynex at 2:20 PM on May 7, 2013


There was also the Colleen Stan story. At times she was locked in a cabinet underneath a waterbed for 23 hours a day. At others, having been psychologically conditioned, she was allowed more freedom and even visited her family with her captor posing as her boyfriend.

During my brief foray into true crime, I read Perfect Victim. The tagline at publication was "too bizarre to be anything but true". Now, it almost seems like its own particular class of crime.
posted by dhartung at 2:27 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Troubling wisdom".

Charles' comment about a pretty white girl running for help to a black man was very saddening and, for this (I realise) ultra-naive pacific islander, eye-opening.
I haven't seen it quoted in any of the news articles I've read that are based on that interview, like it's a truth that is too obvious or too distasteful to mention.

The simplicity of his heroism is wonderful - I heard a woman screaming, I thought it was a domestic, I helped her get out. I wish everyone would act that way.
posted by Catch at 3:26 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cleveland kidnapping suspect on video in 2012 as police dug up a vacant lot looking for Amanda Berry: "That's a waste of money".
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:30 PM on May 7, 2013


I would love to get Dave Henneberry and Charles Ramsey together with Ira Glass. Those two show the true face of contemporary American heroism.
posted by Hennimore at 3:32 PM on May 7, 2013


To be fair, he's absolutely right that they wouldn't find her in the vacant lot.
posted by klangklangston at 3:38 PM on May 7, 2013


Cleveland kidnapping suspect on video in 2012 as police dug up a vacant lot looking for Amanda Berry: "That's a waste of money".

Assuming that is, in fact, the suspect, I wonder if that porch he's sitting on is from the actual house where the girls were being kept. Because if so, that is all kinds of fucked up.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:07 PM on May 7, 2013


This USA Today story has a number of different reports from neighbours about calling the police because of suspicious things they saw. These remain unsubstantiated by the police records so far. Also of interest is that there is a lot of back taxes owing on the property and it has been flagged for foreclosure. Seems in general there were opportunities to get up close with the place but nothing specific enough to be acted on?

The mug shots gave me the full body shudder wiggins.
posted by marylynn at 4:31 PM on May 7, 2013


These remain unsubstantiated by the police records so far.

One wonders how busy the police were last night deleting things.
posted by winna at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I believe the guy in the video is one of the brothers. And he does look like the guy in the mug shot (right side). No idea on if that is the actual house.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:39 PM on May 7, 2013


Connie Schulz (a journalist who happens to be married to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown) reminds readers of a previous horrific crime against Cleveland women. "In the fall of 2009, Cleveland police found the bodies of 11 African-American women buried on the other side of town, at the home of convicted sexual predator Anthony Sowell."
posted by Carol Anne at 4:44 PM on May 7, 2013


I just drove by the street on the way home from the grocery store. It's absolutely packed with news trucks and traffic is a nightmare. I'm pretty sure I saw Greta Van Sustern.
posted by mcmile at 4:45 PM on May 7, 2013


Totally chilling and bizarre report: The Long History of Ariel Castro, Cleveland Kidnapper and Monster
posted by madamjujujive at 5:06 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


A 2004 America's Most Wanted interview with Ariel Castro's daughter Arlene, who was walking home from school with her classmate and friend Gina DeJesus the afternoon DeJesus disappeared.
posted by jamaro at 5:23 PM on May 7, 2013


Also of interest is that there is a lot of back taxes owing on the property and it has been flagged for foreclosure.

FWIW, my (possibly incorrect) understanding is the whole endeavor of assessing and collecting property taxes in Cleveland has been train wreck of indifference, incompetence, and (possibly) corruption for years, and I'm sure the recent financial crisis simply overwhelmed an already tottering system. So I can't say I'm surprised that that house never got any official attention for those reasons.

One wonders how busy the police were last night deleting things.

Sadly, I also can't say I'm surprised at the stories that are popping up of the cops putting an aggressively minimal effort into following up on calls of suspicious activity. Which is to say, I doubt they had to delete anything - far more likely that no-one ever bothered to make an official record in the first place.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:28 PM on May 7, 2013


"The Castro clan is a big clan, so you'll always have a couple of rotten apples" sheds a little light on the family history and relationships (and lack thereof) among some of these folks.
posted by gubenuj at 5:31 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, jamaro, that is chilling. Gina DeJesus was walking home with his daughter, and because Gina had given her money to call her mom from a pay phone, she didn't have enough for the bus, so she walked? Chilling. Just chilling.
posted by ambrosia at 5:40 PM on May 7, 2013


I finally got to watch the interview with Ramsey and I have to say he sounds like a regular guy- why has it gone viral?
posted by small_ruminant at 5:41 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also of interest is that there is a lot of back taxes owing on the property and it has been flagged for foreclosure.

To be sure, the city is one of the epicenters of the foreclosure epidemic, so I read this as a completely nominal situation that would not attract anyone's attention. One in every five homes is vacant, likely with vacancies concentrated more in neighborhoods such as Seymour Ave.

If you look at the commercial encroachment in aerial maps, there really is a very small number of people who would have normally been able to note activity at the location. The double T intersections at both end practically guarantee very little through traffic.

So I can't say I'm surprised that that house never got any official attention for those reasons.

I'm in a similarly affected neighborhood in my city, absent the same scale, and really, while there are nuisance behaviors associated with properties in various stages of tax delinquency or foreclosure, they do not generally trigger much more attention than a lot of paperwork flying back and forth. The city can respond to maintenance issues through code enforcement, but this would normally be limited to the exterior appearance. The bank or any other effective claimant to ownership would be unable to legally gain access to the property, for instance for inspection, until the property is auctioned either for taxes or to settle the completion of the foreclosure action -- either of which could take years.

why has it gone viral?

Some combination of him leaping to take perhaps slightly more credit than he deserves (accounts of who did what vary) and genuinely amusing locutions, all with a sweet frosting of American racial attitudes toward unpolished black males. He's likable, but I'm not sure his likability is always why the video is circulated.
posted by dhartung at 6:00 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, jamaro, that is chilling. Gina DeJesus was walking home with his daughter, and because Gina had given her money to call her mom from a pay phone, she didn't have enough for the bus, so she walked? Chilling. Just chilling.

Between that, his son writing the article about the Amanda Berry kidnapping, his brother being interviewed on the news about the vacant lot being dug up and the other story about some (very) distant relative of Gina Dejesus being in a band or something with Ariel Castro? There are so many connections here.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:08 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind both the statistics I posted above about perpetrators being connected to victims, as well as the fact that despite Cleveland still being a large urban center, it's not that populated a city anymore, and there are 35K Puerto Ricans in the whole county. Ever encounter the "$ETHNICGROUP mafia" effect? Within these communities there are many tightly-knit groups. Add to that the tendency of serial criminals to prey where they already live and work, and you're very likely to find numerous ways that paths cross. The problem for the police is teasing out which of these connections is relevant.
posted by dhartung at 6:20 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Makes me think of "the gimp" in that Pulp Fiction movie. Seemed so far fetched, but now we hear about this, and I've heard of similar things quite a few times now, people being kept as slaves for years.

In Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, not long ago, some woman escaped a little torture trailer where some guy had been keeping her.

Bleh. Can't think about it too much.
posted by rougy at 6:26 PM on May 7, 2013


five fresh fish: "Spend all your time responding to cat calls, you gonna be late to a stabbing."

That's what grampa always used to say. And then he laughed and laughed...

small_ruminant: "I finally got to watch the interview with Ramsey and I have to say he sounds like a regular guy- why has it gone viral?"

Because the story is so fucking horrifying that it's almost like seeing a hero when encountering an ordinary dude with a decent sense of empathy in the midst of it. Plus, he's obviously pretty comfortable in front of the camera, and he's a bit of a character.

Not that he's not a hero, but I'm reluctant to use words like that because of how the media sensationalizes people like that and summarily ignores them after the story is forgotten in a couple weeks. Absolutely, he did the right thing, and he deserves his moment in the sun. I wish the Spanish speaking guy who helped Amanda kick the door out would be recognized a little more, but I think the big picture is more about how several people rose to the occasion instead of turning the other way.

It's all too common for people to ignore domestic violence in general, and in this situation it was just the tip of the iceberg. It's awful that it took this long, but the perpetrators seem to have taken extraordinary measures to hide what was going on inside that house and were very good at hiding in plain sight. At least in the end they didn't totally break the spirits of their victims, who deserve a heck of a lot of credit in getting themselves free, along with people like Charles. Breaking away from an abuser is hard enough for so many abused people, just to get the will to leave takes all your strength, but actual physical captivity along with years or abuse is unfathomable and often destroys a victim's will or desire to escape. It's remarkable that they found a way to gather their strength and try to make a break after all that time, which is the story I really want to hear when the dust settles.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:50 PM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does anyone else find it really strange that headlines keep saying two girls were found, and also another girl was found? That they only show photos of two of the girls, never the third? Why isn't it "three girls found"? I don't get it. I mean, look at this site. If you read through the headlines on the right side of the screen, you'd think only two girls were rescued.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:57 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


why has it gone viral?

In the New Yorker blog linked somewhere above, Amy Davidson summed it up nicely: "For Berry and the others to be rescued, in other words, two things had to happen: she had to never forget who she was, and that who she was mattered; and Ramsey needed to not care who she might be at all—to think that all that mattered was that a woman was trapped behind a door that wouldn’t open, and to walk onto the porch."
posted by gubenuj at 6:59 PM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does anyone else find it really strange that headlines keep saying two girls were found, and also another girl was found?

I think it's because when Berry and DeJesus went missing, there was a lot of local media attention. I wasn't living in Cleveland at the time, but that's what I gather. So people know their names. For some reason, there wasn't a lot of media surrounding Knight's disappearance. Some people even thought that she ran away on her own.

But yeah, even considering that, it still is pretty strange.
posted by mcmile at 7:03 PM on May 7, 2013


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: "Does anyone else find it really strange that headlines keep saying two girls were found, and also another girl was found? That they only show photos of two of the girls, never the third? Why isn't it "three girls found"? I don't get it."

The assumption the police made about her (Knight) when she was reported missing was that she had left on her own; she was 21 when she disappeared, not a minor. The media focused on the other two women from the time they went missing and for several years after, because they were minors and how that plays out in the media, and due to the families keeping the story alive. The fact that they remained missing after so long meant that someone was still on the loose and potentially threatening other children. That line of thinking didn't play out in the case of the first victim, and my understanding is that the investigation into these later disappearances never connected the first victim's disappearance to them, mostly due to age and the way the police reported it at the time, as a missing person who had left under their own will.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:05 PM on May 7, 2013


In other words, for a lot of people who have been following the story, they already know who the two missing women are who are getting all the attention now. They don't know so much about the other woman, because she wasn't really part of the long story arc this has taken over several years of investigating and reporting. So, the headlines about the two women are really wrapping up a long story that's so familiar to people in Cleveland by this point, one that had a lot of people emotionally invested in the outcome. Not really the case with the other victim. But since there are three suspects in custody who are brothers, and since there are three kidnapping victims being held by them for years, I have a feeling the story going forward will be about all of them, because it almost sounds like each perpetrator had a victim of their own, like a captive spouse for each of the men.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:20 PM on May 7, 2013


In the New Yorker blog linked somewhere above, Amy Davidson summed it up nicely: "For Berry and the others to be rescued, in other words, two things had to happen: she had to never forget who she was, and that who she was mattered; and Ramsey needed to not care who she might be at all—to think that all that mattered was that a woman was trapped behind a door that wouldn’t open, and to walk onto the porch."

That's a wonderful line, and entirely true. It would have been so much easier for him just to walk away, which is something that many people would have done in his shoes (even though they don't want to admit that to themselves), but he didn't.

Good man, that Charles Ramsey.
posted by gkhan at 7:24 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why Didn't the Cops Realize Michelle Knight Had Been Kidnapped?
posted by triggerfinger at 7:55 PM on May 7, 2013


bitter-girl.com: "Locally, there have been reports (I haven't found a reliable source or video yet) that say the police dispatch initially did not believe the neighbor when he called. If that does turn out to be true..."

There could be a long history of prank calls of this nature related to these cases. I'm sure even the most empathetic of 911 operators would be at least a teeny bit skeptical after a few hundred prank calls.

sio42: "i guess i am wondering if it's possible the captor(s) could have soundproofed the basement well enough that the shreiks of a woman giving birth was not heard. add in colicky baby and that's a lot of noise. i know nothing about soundproofing tho."

It's really easy to sound proof against these noises. The easiest way is with a few inches of concrete but there are numerous ways to do it with multi layer assemblies too. In a deep basement with no or minimal windows just the house structure itself does a dang fine job. Your typical floor has a STC rating of 50 and then the walls have a STC of 30-50. Only very loud noises are going to be heard and those are going to be greatly attenuated.
posted by Mitheral at 8:00 PM on May 7, 2013


The lack of talk about Michelle Knight caught my attention too. I've seen shows on missing persons where the police won't (or can't) investigate a disappearance because the person is a legal adult with the right to disappear if they want to. I suppose that could be true in some cases, but hearing about how leads were missed or people almost died because an investigation was delayed made me really, really angry. This is me telling the internet, just like I told my sister and SO and my parents, if I go missing and the police won't take a report because I'm an adult or there doesn't seem to be foul play - make them! I will not just drop off the face of the planet!

More generally, WHAT THE HELL. This is absolutely horrific. I can't even... Ugh. These poor women and children. I want to reach out and hug each and every one of them.

I didn't know the Cleveland PD had so many issues - real or perceived (I say that since I haven't really read much about their reputation until the past couple of days). If the issues are as numerous as they appear, I really hope that the police department can get the help it needs to get their shit together
posted by youngergirl44 at 8:47 PM on May 7, 2013


Just imagining the court crowds now: "Castrate . Castro"
Relative to the crime, just whose sensibilities would be offended?
posted by de at 11:20 PM on May 7, 2013


The Troubling Viral Trend of the “Hilarious” Black Neighbor

Charles Ramsey ... has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But [...his] heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.

Why isn't it "three girls found"?

Well, all the non-Cleveland headlines I've seen have said three women, actually. But as noted, the two girls were celebrated cases in the media for many years, and Amanda Berry's was even revived by a now-jailed hoaxer within the last year (which led to the dug-up lot, and the weird confluence of a man who may be the arrested Pedro Castro commenting negatively on its prospects). So Berry's case was by no means forgotten locally, and had even received some national attention e.g. on America's Most Wanted. (I suspect that despite other factors indicating their overall similarity, her schoolmate/neighbor/acquaintance Gina DeJesus received less overall attention due to missing white-girl syndrome.)

But Knight was assumed to have run away from a troubling custody problem. She doesn't seem as directly connected to the community, the way the DeJesus and Berry families are (who may even have cooperated in helping keep each other's cases in the spotlight), and with her mother in Florida just dropped off the radar. There hasn't been a tearful and photogenic reunion tweeted out to the world, either (within hours), as with Berry, so that's definitely a factor. The Berry photo is so compelling that many news outlets have run it despite feeling the need to blur out the six year old's face. (Meanwhile, the Knight family has no photo they can give out.) Media definitely hews to an availability bias.

If you look back to the 1957 case with the newsreel video linked above, you'll see a real forced "happy ending" where the victim is awkwardly smiling while "forgetting her ordeal" at Brighton. I fear we may see similar sorts of tendentious framing with all three victims coming on a morning show together or some such. The fact is that the reunion may not be wholly happy -- even POWs with military discipline have been shown to have resentments about minor differences in treatment and what may have been done to earn that. I really worry about the psychological environment that they went through, and the situation is so unusual that Castro almost must have been a master manipulator along the lines of a Hannibal Lecter, to be one person keeping sway over three other adults. That probably involved playing them against each other.

Combine that with some between-the-lines suspicions that Knight may have been a, shall we say, less involuntary captive and you have a heady mix of explosive drama to yet come out. It may be unfair, and I certainly still consider her a victim, but I wonder more about her for that reason. She was reportedly burdened with a mental condition, confusion, and some juvenile behaviors that may indicate she was more suggestible. All of these could fairly or not combine to make her an unsuitable candidate for in-depth coverage.
posted by dhartung at 11:46 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


dhartung: Combine that with some between-the-lines suspicions that Knight may have been a, shall we say, less involuntary captive and you have a heady mix of explosive drama to yet come out. It may be unfair, and I certainly still consider her a victim, but I wonder more about her for that reason."

Yeah, I mean it's certainly possible, but the mistake so many people make is believing that there are good people and evil people in the world. There are just people, all of us capable of great kindness but also great cruelty. You don't have to look very far to find scientific support for the idea that ordinary people can become monsters given the right circumstances. I'm very reluctant to open the can of worms of even a rumor getting started that Knight was in on the kidnappings at this point, no matter what the truth may be, because it invites victim blaming, and since this is such a well known case she'll have to deal with the unwarranted wrath of millions of strangers - this, after escaping being held captive, abused and raped for over a decade. It is possible that she's been a perpetrator from the beginning, but I kinda doubt all three women would have left the house at once if that were the case, and that only the three brothers were arrested as suspects. If she were involved at all it was likely under extreme duress and done as a matter of survival, even if she came to identify with her captors. I find that aspect interesting as well, but I am really not wanting to see mobs with pitchforks and torches tearing any of these women down.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:36 AM on May 8, 2013


dhartung: "the situation is so unusual that Castro almost must have been a master manipulator along the lines of a Hannibal Lecter, to be one person keeping sway over three other adults."

Three brothers were arrested as suspects. I'm not clear on who was considered to be living at the house full time among the three brothers, or if they all were, but it doesn't look like one person held three people captive; rather that three people held three other people captive. It's almost a certainty that there was still a lot of psychological abuse involved, so not discounting that effect at all, which must have been pretty powerful as it was.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:59 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


From madamjujujive's link:

[Ariel Castro's] penchant for manipulation pulled [his daughters] Emily and Arlene back into his gravitational pull at times...

Emily Castro gave birth to a girl. It’s unclear who the father was - though speculation points to either a former boyfriend who now lives in Cleveland or, according to the private investigator, something much more untoward, evil, and incestuous.

Emily was living in Fort Wayne, Ind., where she attempted to murder her 11-month-old daughter by slashing her throat four times in 2007. She was later convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

“It is certainly a mystery as to how this happened or why this happened,” Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck told The Journal Gazette at the time.


Knowing even the little that we know now, the potential implications here are horrifying. His own daughter could, in effect, be another of his captives.
posted by rory at 1:32 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


From madamjujujive's link:

Well, that was horrendous. The thing about people who do things like this - even on a much lesser scale - they do it because they can. Who was going to stop them? Absolutely no one in any position of power - no, the responsibility falls on the victims, the ones with the least strength to do so, to be the ones to save themselves.
posted by heyjude at 2:27 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, Charles.
posted by Catch at 3:18 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


krinklyfig, I think you're overreading my comment. First, since the brothers lived elsewhere I have to assume they were not always there, and my own daily experience right now as a caregiver to a dementia patient indicates that it's a lot of work to manage the needs of just one person if they are not independently able of doing so themselves. We don't know what provisions for food, water, and sanitation were available, but I strongly suspect they were not given free run of the house. We must also note the observations of neighbors of one man, seemingly not even there all the time. I wondered if they took shifts but that would have meant a lot of observable activity. So in a practical sense, a lot of the time it was one guy, and he would have had to be jailor to three very motivated adults, whatever other occasional help he had with logistics like groceries. We don't even know if the other brothers were co-perpetrators of assault or the father of any of the reported pregnancies.

Also, I certainly didn't mean to imply that Knight was a co-conspirator, just that her reported condition and the possibility she was occasionally out in public with Castro, as her mother claimed, may mean she had more privileges or was trusted more. We saw some of this in the Kampusch case, where she was occasionally granted more freedom; eventually she used it to break free. What I'm talking about is the arc of cooperation and non-cooperation that can go back and forth. In the Stan case it went almost to both extremes, with literal confinement to a box on one end (and being chained like a dog in the yard (!)), to visiting her parents with her captor acting as her boyfriend. In the Stan case there was a wife who must have had a very curious relationship with her own agency, acceding to the kidnapping but expressing jealousy as well. This does not take away from the criminal acts of the perpetrator, but is somewhat akin to discussions of whether women violently fight off sexual assaults or not. At one time, and still popularly, it was necessary to do so to have the charge of rape even given credence, but today fighting back is more about self-preservation than reputation, and we recognize that not fighting back is not a response that should call the woman's victimization into question.

We also have to wonder about the alleged miscarried pregnancies and even alleged births which may have been murdered, and sort that with the fact that one of these children lived. I'm forming a hypothesis that Berry played a long game, raising her daughter to be a potential ally. The accounts of when the daughter was brought out differ; one has her coming out the door with her mother. Others indicate that Castro allowed the daughter some freedom. So my hypothesis is that the daughter may have been instrumental in the escape by being a set of free hands, as it were.

I just want to be clear that I'm analyzing this from my own reading of media reports combined with books about prior cases and with an eye toward the psychological implications, as in the Stanford Prison Experiment. It's speculation and I'm just trying to understand something difficult and abnormal. There are so few similar cases, many of them in very recent years, and they're outside the mainstream of sexual assault study because there really just weren't enough data points. A lot of these cases involve a folie a deux situation or a high dominance/low dominance pairing, as with the Dugard or Stan cases (in both cases the wife was the subordinate conspirator). I got this perspective from localroger's comment about the Tsarnaev brothers. It will be interesting to find out the dynamic with the three brothers and how they map into existing templates of multiple perpetrators; as of now, the NCMEC director considers the situation unique.

More on Chuck: Charles Ramsey breaks stereotypes by helping Amanda Berry escape but will the Internet notice?

Personally, I think he's reading too much into this, as I don't think the 4chan/meme crowd are really concerned that he is an icon of Cleveland; they just like to make fun of shit on the internets.
posted by dhartung at 4:00 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find your speculation pretty gross. How about we don't make the sorts of mistakes that were made in the Boston marathon thread (among many many places) and don't jump to conclusions about people without facts?

Also, there's nothing particularly rare about this, except that these women were kidnapped locally. Sex trafficking and sex slavery is a global problem.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:11 AM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry, I'll drop this line of discussion. It requires a distance from the event and it's problematic because it deals with real individuals. At this point we should be celebrating their release.

The local media are looking anew, also somewhat problematically, at the Castro family in Cleveland and its accomplishments as well as negative aspects. The former owner of the house (to 1992) is apparently Ariel's uncle, Edwin, who ran a record store.

The band Ariel gigged for twice five years ago issues a statement expressing incredulity that they are listed on his Facebook page as an employer.

More information is emerging about the three brothers; Pedro and Onil are both apparent alcoholics and on benefits. Stories about Ariel indicate he couldn't stay overnight when his bands went out of town, and it's interesting that he was fired for using his bus to pick up groceries.

Photographs of Michelle Knight, one a yearbook picture, the other apparently very recent (new?), are circulating on Facebook.

I don't have a link handy, but a police sketch from the DeJesus investigation bears a resemblance to Ariel Castro, which is interesting considering her relationship with his daughter Arlene and the timing of her disappearance, apparently immediately after she spent her bus fare to let Arlene call her mother for permission for a sleep-over. Tracker dogs followed her scent as far as a street sign about a block away from the phone; after she walked away from the daughter, did that put her off guard when Arlene's own father drove up and offered her a ride?

Worst behavior of all in this litany of double lives is that the suspect attended family vigils for Gina DeJesus's return.
posted by dhartung at 5:17 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



In 1993 and 2005, Castro was accused of domestic violence from his one-time wife. The former charges were reduced to mere disorderly conduct, while the latter incident offered grisly imagery of a fractured marriage still capable of wreaking havoc. Castro broke his ex-wife’s nose and ribs, dislocated her shoulders, knocked out one of her teeth and battered her so hard that a blood clot formed on her brain, according to filings in court. In an interview with investigators after the fact, Castro denied ever being abusive toward her.


Wow. Disorderly conduct huh?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:04 AM on May 8, 2013


I think (and sincerely hope) the "former" there is referring to the 1993 charges, and not the outcome of the 2005 incident.
posted by amarynth at 7:59 AM on May 8, 2013


Amanda Berry just arrived home (sister's house) and will be addressing media to give a short statement. Live video here.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:39 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a sign on the front of Amanda Berry's sister's house (where she just arrived) that reads, "Wish It, Dream It, Do It".

So, Family Guy: a couple of years back there was an episode called Brian Writes a Bestseller. The name of the dog's crock of a pop self help book? "Wish It, Want It, Do It".
posted by item at 8:49 AM on May 8, 2013


the home that Amanda Berry is going to may not even be a house she was ever in before.

but she is going home.

to me that reinforces more than ever that idea that home is where the heart is.
home is people, not a place.

she is home. i'm glad they are all going home.
posted by sio42 at 8:54 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This... this is awful - her sister's statement reading.

Fucking vultures. So so awful, and CNN is blaming it on the neighbors: "there's hundreds of neighbors here", says CNN, as all you can see onscreen is hands with microphones.
posted by item at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


An article about Michelle Knight. She has hearing damage and "facial structure damage" from years of beatings.
posted by 41swans at 9:02 AM on May 8, 2013


item, this actually happened, to real people. Why are you persisting in reducing it to stupid pop culture jokes?
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


That story about Michelle Knight is especially sad as there's no indication that her mother took in Michelle's son, it sounds like the boy went into child services.
posted by jamaro at 9:47 AM on May 8, 2013


Well Michelle Knight has just been readmitted to hospital.
That's good.
posted by de at 9:56 AM on May 8, 2013


Stupid pop culture jokes? I didn't make a joke, I made an observation. I though it was an interesting coincidence, if it was a coincidence at all. The only thing stupid here is your insinuation that I'm some kind of uncaring monster.
posted by item at 9:59 AM on May 8, 2013


That story about Michelle Knight is especially sad as there's no indication that her mother took in Michelle's son, it sounds like the boy went into child services.

The more I hear about Ms Night, the sadder the story gets. My heart hurts for her and I really hope she's able to get ongoing treatment she so badly deserves once the hoopla dies down.
posted by item at 10:01 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Amanda Berry just arrived home (sister's house) and will be addressing media to give a short statement. Live video here.

Eventually these people at local news stations who throw up a live video feed are going to have to learn to mute their anchors on scene (and especially their communications back to the studio I presume) until they actually start, but it's sort of fascinating to listen in until they do. Especially eavesdropping on the local woman talk to the person from Oprah.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:21 AM on May 8, 2013


I lived in Cleveland for four years around the time these women disappeared. Would be near that neighborhood most Saturdays when I went to the West Side Market.

This story has me cruising around the town on Google street view. Stunning how many houses have been demolished since I lived there.

So being behind a year on your property taxes probably doesn't garner much action - if the house is/appears occupied the city probably prioritizes dealing with it. I'm confused by some of the reports that describe the house as vacant, though - sounds like at least one of the brothers lived there.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:51 AM on May 8, 2013


De-prioritizes dealing with it, I mean.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:03 AM on May 8, 2013


Wow. Disorderly conduct huh?

Yeah I didn't really understand what the outcome of that was. Did they not prove he beat her up? Because in my personal morals book that seems like a 5-10 years without parole kind of thing.
posted by freecellwizard at 12:05 PM on May 8, 2013


Wow. Prosecutor just stated that no charges will be filed against Onil and Pedro Castro. There is no evidence to suggest they were involved. 7 charges filed against Ariel -- 3 charges of rape, 4 charges of kidnapping.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:11 PM on May 8, 2013


Awful details here. Read at your own discretion.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:41 PM on May 8, 2013


[Folks maybe don't drag the worst possible shit from all the articles over here and then do that nerd-nitpicking thing on them? It makes discussion really difficult and sort of minimizes the fact that these are real living people we're talking about. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:42 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


item, Family Guy was satirizing a real best-selling self-help book, although I haven't determined whether it was a NYT best seller. This is not a case of life imitating art.

At the presser, somebody asked if Castro was an American citizen. While I suppose it's a valid question, all indications are that he's the son or grandson of immigrants and therefore born in Ohio, and in any case, Puerto Ricans are US citizens. The Supreme Court would probably rule that a Puerto Rican-born citizen is qualified to be President.

In 1993 and 2005, Castro was accused of domestic violence from his one-time wife.

The 2005 allegation was from a filing for an order of protection. It was not a conviction. As such, it doesn't even really have the evidentiary strength of a hold charge for an arrest. Such is our adversarial system of law. As the ex-wife's attorney failed to enter an appearance, the whole thing was dismissed and she is now deceased.

Presumably, if this incident occurred as the filing describes, she did not involve the police. I don't know if the Cleveland PD has a mandatory arrest policy, but if they had, there would likely have been a different outcome based on these alleged facts.
posted by dhartung at 6:20 PM on May 8, 2013


7 charges filed against Ariel -- 3 charges of rape, 4 charges of kidnapping.
Why only three charges of rape? Shouldn't he get... a whole bunch of charges of rape?

Also, from USA Today:
Police sources said the 6-year-old-girl was occasionally taken out of the house and would visit suspect Ariel Castro's mother, Lillian Rodriguez, whom she called "grandmother."
Holy crap. Was he not at all concerned that the little kid would say something that would get his mother worried? Or that his mother would, I dunno, ask the kid about kindergarten or something?

Finally, I'm terribly curious as to how Amanda Berry actually escaped (up to the front door). Like, did he forget to chain her up before he left the house? Did she somehow smuggle something she used to pick a lock on her chains? Is this sort of thing currently known to the public?
posted by Flunkie at 9:18 PM on May 8, 2013


Flunkie, BobbyVan's link has both explanations. For the first, the child was somehow told to call Knight and DeJesus other names so that she wouldn't raise tricky questions. For the second, apparently "an inside door" (perhaps a door upstairs, or the door inside the screen door, it's not clear) was left open/unlatched, and Berry was hesitant to use it in case Castro was "testing" her -- which would not be out of the norm for this type of criminal (with a beating the obvious consequence, given reports about Knight). But when she did, she saw neighbors (including Ramsey) across the street and took the chance she'd been given to call out.

Incidentally, Ramsey doubled down on the human decency pot by telling Anderson Cooper, "I'm a Christian, an American, and just like you," in denying he's a hero, and then pointing out he just got his "paycheck" and "take that reward and give it to - that little girl came out the house and she was crying."

I hope Cleveland has a Key to the City. And I hope he gets his McDonald's free for the rest of his life.
posted by dhartung at 10:41 PM on May 8, 2013


dhartung: " Incidentally, Ramsey doubled down on the human decency pot by telling Anderson Cooper, "I'm a Christian, an American, and just like you," in denying he's a hero, and then pointing out he just got his "paycheck" and "take that reward and give it to - that little girl came out the house and she was crying.""

Yes. That is the manner which that question should always be answered. It's an impossible role for anyone to fill, and anyone who thinks of themselves as a hero is usually more along the lines of those self-appointed RL superheroes in Seattle. We should all be encouraged to do the right and compassionate thing when the occasion arises. The idea that someone offered help and asked nothing for it makes someone a hero is depressing ... it seems like that kind of natural empathy should be deeply embedded in the fabric of our culture, where helping each other isn't seen as heroic but as a low bar of common decency, a way of life.

That said, Charles is a excellent dude, and his humility is exactly what people need to hear right now.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:28 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Flunkie, from BobbyVan's link:
On Monday, Amanda told the law enforcement source that a big inside door was left unlocked when Castro left but the storm door remained latched. Amanda tried to get it open but told the source she was afraid to break it open because she thought Castro was trying to "test her."

Amanda then saw neighbors [Anna Tejeda and friends] on a porch and began frantically screaming until Charles Ramsey and another man [Anna Tejeda's Spanish-speaking friend, Angel Cordero] came to her rescue. They helped her break out of the house and call 911.
The unsung hero, Angel Cordero, interests me more than Ramsey. Truth be known, Cordero's the one Ramsey unpersuaded: "you've got some big testicles to pull this off bro because we see this dude [Castro] every day. I mean every day."

Other than that I've heard Ramsey mention 'we' once or twice, otherwise taking full credit for the rescue. He's a blowhard, a chicken, and probably does deserve lifetime BigMacs.
posted by de at 11:31 PM on May 8, 2013


de: " Other than that I've heard Ramsey mention 'we' once or twice, otherwise taking full credit for the rescue. He's a blowhard, a chicken, and probably does deserve lifetime BigMacs."

Hm. Yeah, Angel's story was kind of shoved in the background after the initial reporting. All we got from him is an impromptu interview through a translator.

So, I said Charles is rightfully rejecting the hero label, but he's excellent for stepping up.

You say he's a chicken and blowhard who's taking credit.

That's why the hero label bugs me so much. They pull this guy from a crime scene, and suddenly he's a hero. The people following the story would not have thought anything negative about him if he didn't end up being interviewed on the news, but he was, and they tried to put him on a pedestal over and over. If people start to see flaws in Charles after they put him on that pedestal, he's no longer a hero and now is considered in the polar opposite, worse than ordinary and more like a jerk, but for what? He certainly didn't commit any of the crimes involved in this horror show but was more of a bystander who ended up part of the story. If nobody called him a hero, we might not care so much that he's just a flawed human being like the rest of us, and we might not be so eager to tear him down.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:45 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh yes, he's playing with fire.
posted by de at 11:50 PM on May 8, 2013


A fund has been established to help Berry, DeJesus, Knight and their families. The Cleveland Courage Fund will be administered through the Cleveland Foundation. Donations, which will go to nonprofit organizations to provide services for the victims, can be given at clevelandfoundation.org or sent to the Cleveland Foundation, 1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 1300, Cleveland, Ohio 44112.

(The Cleveland Foundation was established in 1914 and has high scores for accountability and transparency according to Charity Navigator.)
posted by dhartung at 1:01 AM on May 9, 2013


Nobody’s Praising Angel Cordero, the Less-Flamboyant Neighbor Who Also Helped Free Amanda Berry

‘I helped her first’: Cleveland man says he, not Charles Ramsey, came to Amanda Berry’s aid before others

Angel Cordero on rescuing Amanda Berry: "I kicked the door at the bottom .... and that's when Amanda ran out"
posted by dhartung at 1:08 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll leave this alone now, but in fairness to Ramsey, I'm now getting conflicting information from Cordero. The original Cordero interview aired on the same evening as Ramsey's first performance. An interpreter, the woman who also did the interview, left me with the impression Cordero had encouraged Berry to kick the lower panel of the door out, herself, as opposed to him kicking the panel in. The panel needed to be kicked out, not in.

I can't relocate that original Cordero interview, so maybe I'm the one confabulating details (now). Anyway, Ramsey's embellished so much he'd make an unreliable witness. It's a good thing his detailed evidence isn't crucial. That's what's bugging me the most.
posted by de at 2:50 AM on May 9, 2013


I guess I can imagine reasons that Cordero might want to maintain a low profile. I don't have any problem with Ramsey being in the spotlight (though I often worry about "ordinary" people and what happens when sudden fame descends upon them) – it's a big, crazy thing that just happened to him and he was on the side of right. That's heady stuff and most of us would be pretty goggled.
posted by amanda at 8:50 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


dhartung: The Troubling Viral Trend of the “Hilarious” Black Neighbor

This was the first place my mind went to after I saw the interview with Ramsey, which is that people are going to bypass any sense of him as a person and basically just use him as a source of entertainment (and, I think, implicit ridicule). It's easy to lose sight of the context with these things when you're looking at them from a place of privilege: I parroted the "ain't nobody got time for that" line in a comment I made yesterday and I regret it now, especially in light of how nasty I think the Gregory Brothers' schtick is. I guess I don't really have much of a point other than yeah, the aura around his internet fame makes me uncomfortable.
posted by invitapriore at 11:47 AM on May 9, 2013


invitapriore: "I guess I don't really have much of a point other than yeah, the aura around his internet fame makes me uncomfortable."

Jay Smooth: T-Paining Too Much: The Meme-ification of Charles Ramsey
I was laughing with everybody else, but I feel like we, as a culture, turned some kind of corner when the word 'meme' became a verb that describes something we do to a person.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cordero has given interviews to overseas Spanish-speaking media. He is a Dominican Republic national, apparently, but has lived in the US for many years, 13 of them on Seymour Ave. He is more forceful with his criticism of Ramsey than he has been noted to be in US media, saying that the first to react was a fellow Dominican (multiple families, or a group of relatives, apparently living in the same house at 2210 Seymour), Aurora Marti, who told him about the woman screaming, and that he went over and helped her get out. According to his account, Ramsey only became involved at this point, calling 911 at the same time (as previously noted) as Berry was using the phone of another Dominican named Altagracia Marti, and when Berry told the dispatcher there were two other women in the house, Ramsey wanted to go over there and get them out, but then "regretted" (transl?).

Cordero says that Ramsey has a "sponsorship" to promote McDonald's, by the way, and was picked up in a limo for media interviews.

'El verdadero héroe de Cleveland soy yo', afirma Ángel Cordero [english] -- Excelsior, a Mexican website

Un dominicano asegura fue el primero en ayudar a secuestradas en Cleveland [english] -- El Nuevo Diario, a Dominican website
posted by dhartung at 1:41 AM on May 10, 2013


Ramsey wanted to go over there and get them out, but then "regretted" (transl?).

He sort of looked like he was going to go in, but changed his mind.
posted by vacapinta at 1:54 AM on May 10, 2013


'Reneged' fits well.
(Scared out of his wits Castro would grab him.)
posted by de at 4:02 AM on May 10, 2013


MSNBC is running a headline during an interview saying "Each year 60,000 children are abducted by strangers!".

That's... ridiculous. It's laughable. Doesn't anyone even think about these things before passing them along as fact?
posted by Justinian at 12:10 PM on May 10, 2013


Hell, it's only off by a factor of like 500, maybe I shouldn't be so hard on them.
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


MSNBC is running a headline during an interview saying "Each year 60,000 children are abducted by strangers!".

That's... ridiculous. It's laughable. Doesn't anyone even think about these things before passing them along as fact?


Of course they don't. It's easier to freak people right the fuck out if you give them some huge number. This is why my local news stations are now reporting "stranger danger incidents" - nevermind that 19 of the last 20 such reports have been proven to be completely fabricated.

(The correct figure for stranger based abductions in the US is ~113 per year.)
posted by MissySedai at 4:13 PM on May 10, 2013


More than three hundred thousand children are carried away by eagles every week.
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on May 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


One thing I've thought about a lot in the past few days is Amanda Berry's mother, who died in 2006. I don't know for sure, but I can't imagine that Berry could have learned about her mother's death while she was captive.

So she's freed. After an ordeal that the rest of us cannot begin to understand. And then at some point she learns that her mother, the woman who did more than anyone to raise awareness about Berry, was dead.

After all that. I can't even imagine.
posted by mcmile at 6:15 PM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her mother, who was the person who knew her best and knew her from birth. The person who Amanda knew best. I bet she feels very alone.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 PM on May 10, 2013


Michelle Knight's story. It's very sad. If reports of even worse behavior from her mother's former boyfriend are indeed true, just painfully horrific. I hope she's getting everything she needs.
posted by houseofdanie at 7:25 PM on May 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


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